Welcome back to the Marvel Rundown! This week, we take a look at the finale for Spine-Tingling Spider-Man! Spoilers not your style? Hop on down to the Rapid Rundown for quick reviews of Dead X-Men, Carnage, and more!

What did you think of this week’s batch of fresh Marvel Comics, True Believers? The Beat wants to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat, and let us know what you’re thinking.

Spine-Tingling Spider-Man #4

Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Letterer: Joe Caramagna

Ultimate Spider-Man #1 has garnered all the Spidey-fan (and more) attention of late, and rightly so. But I think there’s absolutely been another non-mainline Spider-Man title worth reading of late — Spine-Tingling Spider-Man. And this week the series comes to its finale.

If you are entirely unfamiliar with this book (which is maybe fair, it’s been a bit off the radar), the premise is that it’s a mostly standalone Spider-Man story with a horror bent. It’s scripted by Saladin Ahmed, who has done great things with horror both inside and outside of comics.

Spine-Tingling Spider-Man

And Ahmed’s spooky sensibilities play well with Spider-Man and his world. From the first issue, there’s clearly been an experienced horror writer at work here, but it’s especially evident in this finale. This is a story that is keenly aware that anyone can throw monsters at the audience (which it does, and they’re great), but that they also need to be accompanied with smarter horror. In this story, that takes the form of finding out what you’d do to a vulnerable, unarmed opponent who’d greatly wronged you…and then having to live with that knowledge. None of that is lingered on, but there are some great, brief lines in this script that cut hard and stick with you.

Really though, what drew me into this book and kept me reading eagerly right on through this fourth issue was the artwork by Juan Ferreyra, who I write often is one of the most interesting artists in superhero comics. This book really gives Ferreyra a chance to show off his versatile skillset. It’s easy to forget now that Ferreyra has done the rounds through superhero comics — drawing characters that range from Batman to Green Arrow to the Thunderbolts to Killmonger — but this is an artist who really sort of emerged drawing great horror books, with Colder in particular being one of the book’s that first brought him to my attention.

And he’s just set totally free in the pages of this one, delivering creepy reveals of the Jackal as the real villain here, as well as great superhero cartooning around Spider-Man. It’s really just a great, gritty looking superhero-horror comic, and I have no hesitation recommending it to anyone who thinks they might be interested in that kind of thing.

Verdict: BUY

Rapid Rundown!

  • Carnage #3
    • Torunn Grønbekk and Pere Pérez have made this a fascinating series so far. There are two Cletus Kasadys in the world, one the original, and one a clone recreated by the Carnage symbiote to serve its own purposes. Grønbekk has pitted them against each other, while also throwing a resurrected Flash Thompson into the mix, and its made for a very dark story thus far. There’s this horrifying combination of Q-anon-like online ideology, serial killers, and religion that all swirl into a bloody mediation on cult personalities. Pérez draws some truly gruesome panels, with the single most violent brain-eating scene I think I’ve ever seen. Erick Arciniega’s colors are dark and slick, perfect for the destruction in this book, pairing with Joe Sabino’s freakish balloons for the letters. The book is building to something big, and it feels as though we’ve barely scratched the depravity to come. — CB
  • Dead X-Men #1
    • Isn’t a dead X-Man just an Ex-Man? Anyways, last year’s Hellfire Gala took the old X-book truism “Welcome to the X-Men, hope you survive the experience!” to new extremes.  Orchis brutally massacred the new lineup only a page after being introduced. Most of that line up though appear here, in the cleverly titled Dead X-Men. They’re on a mission to save the present by traveling to various dystopian futures to find the now villainous Moira MacTaggart. Look, if you don’t already intensely follow the X-books, very little of this issue will give new readers any emotional investment. Like past bemoaned eras with X-books, this book exists strictly for the hardcore. The Krakoa era is heading towards the finish line and all books exist for that. You’re either here to see the ending or waiting out for the next era to come.  Writer Steve Foxe at least keeps the action going in this book. He gets to insert a few character moments highlighting how exhausted these characters are fighting an endless war for survival. There’s three artists credited for this book; Jonas ScharfBernard Chang, and Vincenzo Carratù. It’s not as bad as it sounds since thankfully they all draw similarly to each other.  The switch between artists doesn’t look too drastic. Still three artists on one book is a lot. It makes one wonder if editorial put this together last minute because they forgot a plot point needed an explanation. — DM
  • Marvel’s Voices: Legends #1
    • The tradition that is Marvel’s Voices leads off Black History Month with its annual anthology of Black Superheroes by Black creators. This year’s collection is filled with solid stories of familiar characters by a mixed group of talented creators, and creator spotlight/interview. A standout story is a twisted Deathlok tale by writer Ezra Claytan Daniels and artist Sean Damien Hill, as Deathlok (Michael Collins) sustains heavy damage and his AI does whatever it takes to complete the mission, including harvesting the organs of the collateral damage from his battle with Magnum Force, I won’t spoil how that works out. On the other side of the spectrum is another one of my favorite stories, a fun and loving glimpse into the future of Marvel’s premiere Black royalty. “The World Is Not Ready” by writer Sheree Renée Thomas and artist Julian Shaw is the story of Storm and the Black Panther’s rambunctious superpowered grandchildren. Consulting editor Angélique Roché has an insightful chat with artistic legend Denys Cowan, as well as an enlightening look at the life of one of Marvel’s first Black artists, Matt Baker. Missing was a story by the relatively new character Ghostlight, but we are given a master class introduction by writer/scholar John Jennings, next year Marvel. —GC3

Next week: The crew settles in for a roundtable chat about Ultimate Black Panther #1!